RAZORED ZEN

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review of Under the Ember Star by Rachel V. Olivier

Something good to post about. Rachel Olivier has put up a very fine review of Under the Ember Star over at her blog. Thanks to Rachel for the review, and I'm glad she liked it. I was happy too because this is one of the first posted reviews I've had of the book by a woman reader. It took me a long time to try, as a male writer, to create a female protagonist, rather than just female secondary characters. I've only done it a few times so I was pleased to hear that it worked from someone of the other gender.

In other news, interesting lucid dream last night. As soon as I realized it was lucid I opened the door the cabin I was in and took off flying. That's what I usually do whenever I go lucid. Love to fly. Later I had a dream about a wolf puppy gnawing at my boot.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Promotion Hell

Promotion of one's creative works is just outright hell. It goes against my nature to act like a salesman, but if you don't let people know about your work then you're certainly doomed to obscurity. But in this world it seems you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I joined Facebook to connect with both family and with writers and readers who share my particular loves, such as fantasy, pulp fiction, SF, and Westerns. I comment often on other people’s posts. I share teasers from friends about their work and I do post about my own. I don’t very often post a straight sales-pitch, but I do put up teasers or quotes from my own work. I only do this on average about every three or four days so I don’t think it’s excessive. I try to make most of my "promotional" posts funny anyway in hopes that a few people will get a kick out of it.

I did a post like this yesterday. It’s the back cover blurb for Swords of Talera, which I wrote myself, and I included a link to the book on Amazon. When I paged back through my feed the most recent promotional item that shows up was on June 20, so that’s a pretty good while.

However, I got a comment on my post. I quote: “Stop posting sales pitches or I will defriend you.” Someone else then ‘liked’ that comment.


Wow, one post a month with a link to one’s own work is apparently excessive. I’m certainly not going to quit doing what I’m doing. I personally like to hear what other writers are working on. And it’s fine to me if folks who aren’t really my friends “defriend” me. Still, I have to say, it hurt just a little bit to get up and see that kind of comment first thing in the morning. 
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Divide and Conquer

All the Way From:
Republicans versus Democrats
Liberals versus Conservatives
Theists versus Atheists
Rural versus Urban
Rich versus Poor
Pro gun / Anti gun
Pro life / Pro choice
White vs Black vs Brown
Christianity vs Islam vs Judaism
Christian vs Pagan
Islam vs America
Wal-Mart vs Costco
Congress vs Congress
Obama vs Boehner
Gay vs Straight
Men vs Women
Religion vs Secularism

To:
Star Trek or Star Wars
Fiction or Nonfiction

Down To:
Boxers or Briefs

It's all about divide and conquer. It all makes me sick.
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Authentic Howard, with answers

OK, here are the quotes again, with the identification and my comments in parentheses. 

#1. "Before them all came the giant form of Conan.  Arrows had ripped his white khalat, exposing the glittering black mail that clad his lion-thewed torso."  (This is De Camp and Carter, "Black Tears", P. 16 of ­Conan the Wanderer­.  I thought it was pretty good. The use of the word “khalat” is a giveaway. It’s classic De Camp and I don’t think Howard ever used this word.)

#2. "There was blood on the Cimmerian's mail, dried blood on the sword in his right hand; he loomed dim and gigantic in the shadowy light." (This is authentic REH, P. 51 of ­Red Nails­, the Berkley paperback edition.  Really good. The use of the semi-colon to tie two sentences together is a nice stylistic touch.)
   
#3. "Both Conan's knees bent to drop him straight down into a squat below the mighty cut.  He heard the wind-noise of the rushing blade, too close above his head."  (This is andy offutt, P. 42 of ­Conan the Mercenary­.  Workmanlike prose.  Nothing spectacular here.)

#4. "The Cimmerian strode forward through the dull light and dust of the battlefield.  His sword was red, his knuckles white from the harsh grip of his hand on the hilt."  (This is my contribution, from ­“Conan: Let's Rip Their Heads off and Feed Them to the Worms­,” an unpublished manuscript that consists only of the two lines quoted above.

#5. "Conan pivoted on his buttocks, his foot rising to meet a hurtling nomad in the stomach.  With a gagging gasp the man stopped dead, black eyes goggling as he bent double."  (This is Robert Jordan, ­Conan the Unconquered­.  It doesn't get much worse than this.  I mean, gagging, gasp, and goggling in the same sentence.  I've got to start using more "G" words in my own writing.  To be fair, though, this was one of his earlier books. And I read several Conan books by him. The stories were not that bad. I never tried the Wheel of Time series.)
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Monday, July 07, 2014

Authentic Howard

All of the quotes below feature the character of Conan, but only one was actually written by Robert E. Howard. Any guesses as to which? Any idea who the other authors might be? I'll post the answers in a couple of days by just adding them to this post.

1.  "Before them all came the giant form of Conan.  Arrows had ripped his white khalat, exposing the glittering black mail that clad his lion-thewed torso."

2.  "There was blood on the Cimmerian's mail, dried blood on the sword in his right hand; he loomed dim and gigantic in the shadowy light."

3.  "Both Conan's knees bent to drop him straight down into a squat below the mighty cut.  He heard the wind-noise of the rushing blade, too close above his head."

4.  "The Cimmerian strode forward through the dull light and dust of the battlefield.  His sword was red, his knuckles white from the harsh grip of his hand on the hilt.

5.  "Conan pivoted on his buttocks, his foot rising to meet a hurtling nomad in the stomach.  With a gagging gasp the man stopped dead, black eyes goggling as he bent double."

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A True Nightmare

I’ve mentioned before how much I love my nightmares. Well, I had a different kind of nightmare last night, one that I was sad to wake up from and now feel a lingering melancholy that it wasn’t real.  

In the dream I found a used bookstore I’d never seen before. This is, of course, a wonderful start to a dream. As would happen in real life, I was unable to resist going into the store and browsing. The shelves were filled mostly with colorful paperbacks. I saw they had a big western section and moved over to that. Almost immediately I found a dozen Lewis B. Patten westerns that I’d never seen before. Patten is not my favorite western writer but his tales are consistently good and it would certainly be a thrill to find a bunch of his works together like that. In real life I would have bought them all.

Then I saw that across the aisle from the westerns was the science fiction/fantasy section. I moved over there. The place was dimly lit and I noticed a row of thin paperbacks on the very top shelf that looked like Lin Carter books. I have most of Carter’s books and have read most of the ones I have, but I will typically look through stacks of his works to see if I’m missing anything. I reached up and pulled down a handful, only to get a most pleasant surprise.

By their covers, the books were clearly space opera/sword and planet works, but they were written by an author named Joe Comple. I had never heard of the author, nor seen these books before, but they looked exactly like something I would love. I sat the stack down beside me and selected the top one for further study, just as would be my habit in real life.

The cover was mostly bright blue and it looked like something Darrel K. Sweet might have done. The central image showed two space faring galleons coming together in battle. The author’s name, Joe Comple, was in small print near the bottom, and the title stretched large across the top portion. The title was “Hijacking the Ajax.”

I opened the book to page one and started reading. It struck me as quite good, although after waking up I couldn’t remember the exact words. The Ajax turned out to be one of the ships from the cover, and the opening line was something like: “The Ajax came down to the attack on a long parabolic curve.”

There turned out to be three Joe Comple books in the stack I’d taken down, although I remember nothing about the other two, and they immediately went on the pile I was planning on buying. Then the nightmare occurred. I woke up. And realized the books didn’t really exist. I sure wish they did.

I even went to Google and Amazon and searched for Joe Comple. There are a couple of folks named that apparently but none of them appear to be writers. More’s the pity. Although if I ever need a pseudonym for fantasy maybe I’ve just dreamed one up.

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